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Regional Director for Africa for German Co-operative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DRGV) Mr Ludwig Ehard says cooperative movement in his country is taken seriously as it has the potential to improve livelihood of many people.

Giving a word of encouragement during the second SADC Savings and Credit Co-operative Society (SACCOS) Managers Conference Dinner in Gaborone on Monday, Mr Ehard said 25 per cent of Germany’s population were members of different co-operatives.

Mr Ehard, who has been with the co-operative movement for the past 25 years and is currently based in Pretoria, South Africa, said it had been proven that through membership of SACCOS, one could positively change his life for the better.

Mr Ehard noted that SACCOS could assist members not to entirely depend on government, but instead members could take care of their daily needs with little government assistance where the need arises. 

He said there was no reason why he should seek financial services from major banks because co-operative banks could also offer the same quality assistance with much reasonable interest. 

In the meantime, he urged SADC SACCOS to develop and put more supporting structures and refined policies in place so as to strengthen the way they run their businesses so that they could attract more members.

Mr Ehard however praised governments that were committed towards assisting co-operative societies to grow and stand by themselves because equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills would ensure their survival and economically empowered communities. 

In the same vein, deputy director of Department for Co-operative Development, Mr Boniface Tsheko in his keynote address said SADC member countries, while promoting integration, must also help people to get out of debt-trap, and must strive to achieve the simultaneous poverty eradication, significant reduction of inequalities and economic exclusion.

He noted that in countries where SACCOS had been successfully managed, they had been proved as an effective means of lifting people out of poverty; an improved financial inclusion of the previously unbanked; and positively contributing towards employment creation.

Mr Tsheko said it was through SACCOS that SADC could be in a better position to accelerate regional economic integration where in general, ordinary men and women, youth and people with disabilities in particular, become employers while employees from banks, industries and other trades access their banking services and benefit from the sweat of their labour through their SACCOS. ENDS

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